Caught in the middle
Renters angry after water services abruptly cut by city
Summerside city council is examining its policy for shutting off utilities when bills are outstanding after more than 30 families had their water cut off last week without notice.
Currently, the city has a policy of disconnecting utility services for overdue accounts after delivering two written warnings, at least 14 days apart, to a property owner.
Coun. Bruce MacDougall raised the issue at council Monday night after hearing from residents in the 36 units at McQuaid Court, who woke up one morning last week with no water to their townhouses.
Neither the city nor the landlord for the development would comment to reporters on why the water was shut off July 11. However, one of the tenants, Eddie Rossiter, told the Journal Pioneer that city staff told him there was an issue with his landlord.
Rossiter said there was no warning for tenants, who pay for utilities as part of their rent to the McQuaid Court Board.
“There was some grumpy people around here,” Rossiter said.
Lisa Hopper has lived on McQuaid Court for seven years and said there has never been a problem like this before.
“You’ve got to be kidding me, that’s what I feel,” she said.
A city crew turned the water back on around noon the same day.
Rossiter described the whole situation as frustrating.
If it is indeed the case that there was a problem between the city and the property owner, he feels the tenants should have been notified by the municipality that something was afoot before the tenants woke up without water in the middle of the summer.
There are recourses for people in this situation under the provincial Landlord and Tenant Act, he said, but those options are of little use when a service has already been disconnected.
The City of Summerside’s website regarding water services indicates that if a tenant has a water utility account in his or her own name and it becomes in arrears, then the owner of the property could be informed of the situation.
It should not be a big change in policy to have the same courtesy extended for the reverse situation, said Rossiter.
“This is where policy meets the human condition,” he said.
“You’ve got to be kidding me, that’s what I feel.” Lisa Hopper
A City of Summerside employee assists with turning water services back on to McQuaid Court after services were briefly disconnected to the neighbourhood on July 11.
Eddie Rossiter says tenants had no warning that water services were to the neighbourhood were going to be disconnected on July 11.